Assessment Arrangements Toolkit

The AA toolkit provides you with templates that you can use or adapt, and exemplars that have been shared by centres, to support the process of gathering, evidencing, and verifying AA requests.

The toolkit will encourage you to reflect on your own practice and your centre’s policies and procedures. It will also allow you to make confident judgements by ensuring you are gathering the most appropriate evidence to support learners across their subjects.

Before exploring the toolkit, why not begin by viewing the Assessment Arrangements SQA Academy course.

Self-evaluation

You might find it helpful to carry out a self-evaluation to establish to what extent your existing practices comply with SQA’s quality assurance requirements for the provision of AA. We’ve provided a pro forma to help you, listing the documentary evidence required to support the provision of any AA, allowing you to add your existing processes and help identify actions to address any gaps:

The stages of assessment arrangements

The toolkit will take you through the following stages of AA. If you have completed the self-evaluation there may be one stage that you are interested in.

Click on the section below that you wish to view or alternatively continue on through each stage of the toolkit.

  1. Identifying the learner’s eligibility
  2. Determining appropriate arrangements
  3. Verifying need

The AA toolkit allows you to consider the processes you go through at each of these stages.

It is important that key activities are documented. Primarily, this will help you to ensure that learners receive the support they are entitled to during the course as well as during assessments. It will also allow you to demonstrate to SQA that an effective internal system is in place to verify your decisions.

It will also assist in conversations with parents and carers, and learners, on the decision to offer support — or not. Your centre should have an overall policy on assessment arrangements. You may have to speak to your SQA co-ordinator to find this.

Don’t have a centre policy? Click to see examples:

This stage of the AA toolkit focuses on the documentation a centre holds that records the learners’ difficulty or disability and how it affects learning and teaching. You may find that your centre’s Support for Learning team store the record of a learner’s disability/ personal details however records of the actual effect on learning and teaching might be kept within each subject department.

You should have access to this information before delivering a lesson to a new class.

Wherever possible, a learner’s likely difficulty in accessing an assessment should have been identified before they embark on a qualification. In some cases, however, the learner’s difficulty may only become apparent, or be disclosed, during the course of study.

It is important to remember that the learner’s difficulty could be identified by the learner, by learning support staff, or by the subject teacher/lecturer. If you think there may be a learner that needs support in your class, the first thing you should do is speak to the Support for Learning lead within your centre.

Questions to ask:

  • Does the centre have a record of the learner’s difficulty or disability? This will be diagnosis evidence.
  • Does the department have information on how the difficulty affects learning and teaching, and any support that has been identified for this learner for each subject? You may find this in department records.

Examples of diagnosis evidence could include:

  • medical record
  • reading test
  • psychologist’s report
  • dyslexia screening test

These will be kept securely.

Examples of the records departments might keep showing how the disability/difficulty specifically affects learning and teaching:

Stage 1 checklist

Documentary evidence of the candidate’s disability/difficulty and how this generally affects the learning and teaching situation.

  • Do you have the relevant information/evidence of the nature and extent of the disability or difficulty?

In this stage we’ll look at how to determine what assessment arrangements are required for a learner. Any such arrangement should adequately assist the learner in their everyday lessons and demonstrate their attainment without compromising the integrity of the qualification during assessment. This could be quite straightforward, or it could require more detailed discussion with SQA.

If you are in any doubt as to the specific arrangements that could be put in place for a learner, either during the course or during assessments, please contact the assessment arrangements team at aarequests@sqa.org.uk

What is my role?

Your centre’s policy document should give you an understanding of the role you play at this stage. Here we will give you examples of the types of evidence centres gather to determine appropriate arrangements.

SQA asks that the centre keeps documentary evidence that varying needs across subjects have been taken into account. We look for consultation and negotiation with subject staff which shows that you have considered different assessment situations between subjects and make requests accordingly. Teachers and lecturers should be ‘actively involved’.

All learners are different — there is no one-size-fits-all solution, because this is a needs-led process. To give you an idea of what might be possible and for specific examples of difficulties and what arrangements have been put in place, have a look at the examples throughout this document: Assessment Arrangements Explained.

Evidence — with and without support

Subject teachers and lecturers are best placed to know the difficulties their learners face in their class on a day-to-day basis, and to know and understand the assessment demands of their subject. Being ‘actively involved’ (as we said above) does not necessarily mean always collecting learners’ work produced with, and without, support. Our guidance states that evidence might include records of consultation and negotiation and teacher or lecturer comments and observations which take into account the assessment demands of different subjects.

Every situation is different, but we would never request that you remove a vital support that is used daily simply to prove that the learner required it.

Where a centre is able to identify a significant improvement with an arrangement within one subject area, this then contributes to the evidence profile for all the other subjects in a cluster of subjects with similar assessment demands. But we would also expect that all teachers and lecturers are ‘actively involved’, and this provides relevant information and evidence for due consideration being given in all subjects.

Extra time

We understand that many centres find it difficult to gather evidence in support of extra time as an assessment arrangement, so we have provided some examples of the type of evidence you might want to use within a case study:

SQA Guidance-Mental Health Case Study

We would also like to draw your attention to our guidance on the difference between exam stress and stress/anxiety due to a mental health condition. Here, you will find real examples of situations and how centres have responded:

Please remember that learners who access assessments/coursework remotely must also have their needs met. Consider how you will gather evidence and offer support to any learner who is completing work remotely this year. 

Stage 2 checklist

Documentary evidence of the candidate’s disability/difficulty and how this generally affects the learning and teaching situation.

  • Do you have evidence of how the disability/difficulty has impacted on teaching and learning in the classroom and that subject staff are involved in relevant discussions and in recording relevant information?
  • Is your evidence current?

Documentary evidence of your candidate’s current need for support in the classroom, how this is met, and how it relates to the assessment arrangements being requested or provided.

  • Does your evidence show that decisions are made on the actual assessment arrangement proposed and based on the current support provided in normal teaching and learning?
  • Do you have evidence that subject staff are involved in relevant discussions and in recording information?
  • Do you have evidence to show that the assessment arrangement is effective and removes the disadvantage? Does it have the potential to make a significant difference to the candidate’s ability to be assessed fairly against the national standards?
  • Is your evidence current?

Documentary evidence that varying needs across subjects have been taken into account

  • Do you have evidence of the need for current support available for each subject?
  • Do you have evidence that subject staff have been involved in gathering evidence?
  • Do you have evidence that subject staff support the arrangement proposed?

Documentary evidence for particular assessment arrangements

  • Do you have appropriate evidence of how a particular assessment arrangement has been determined. For example, for extra time, does this include (i) evidence indicating that extra time is appropriate and (ii) evidence that a specific amount of extra time is appropriate?

Formally verifying the learner’s need for an assessment arrangement is extremely important for two reasons:

  • You need to be assured that your decision to provide, or not to provide, a particular assessment arrangement can be justified, and that it accords with both SQA guidance and relevant equality legislation.
  • SQA needs to be satisfied that schools have in place their own robust internal AA verification system, which ensures that all relevant information and evidence has been gathered and considered.

Examples of standard practice

Here you will find examples of documents that centres use to support their verification meetings. You may wish to consider storing these electronically by converting them to electronic versions such as Microsoft Forms or similar.

Stage 3 checklist

Documentary evidence of the internal assessment arrangements verification meeting(s)

  • Do you hold a formal assessment arrangements verification meeting or meetings to ensure that all relevant information and evidence has been gathered and considered in determining the provision of assessment arrangements for candidates in both internal and external assessments?
  • Do you have a formal minute/note of the meeting(s) that has been signed and dated?
  • Is it clear which assessments your assessment arrangements verification meeting(s) is for?
  • Are the meetings held at an appropriate time in the year?
  • Are appropriate personnel present?
  • Are requests for or the provision of assessment arrangements formally authorised by a senior member of staff?
  • Is this senior member of staff independent of the learning support structure in the centre?
  • Do you have a procedure for making late decisions?

Thanks to all centres who contributed to this resource. This toolkit will be continuously updated as centres share their practice with us.